Most businesses are willing to put a few security measures in place in their lobbies to prevent common security problems. Namely, a locked door or a person at the front desk can keep visitors from accidentally wandering back into the private offices where they’re not supposed to be.
But those general precautions won’t protect your business from more determined criminals.
If you want to take your office security to the next level, your front desk staff and employees need to be aware of the tactics commonly used by criminals to bypass physical access control measures.
Here are a few ways people can gain unauthorized access, and how to prevent them.
Sneaking In Unnoticed
Perhaps the simplest way for criminals to get past the security efforts at the front desk is to skip the front desk altogether.
One common approach taken is a tactic that security experts call “tailgating.” This happens when unauthorized guests walk in with a group of employees or other authorized guests so that the security doesn’t notice them (or assumes they’re with the group).
Another way is to come in through an unauthorized entrance. Many employees, students, or other authorized guests will actually open a side door (or hold it open) for anyone who asks them to do it. In other cases, side doors are left propped open, or are easy for criminals to pry open from the outside.
In order to prevent the wrong people from coming into your office, you can do a few things:
- Consider designating an employee-only entrance and setting aside a separate visitor entrance, and make signage and the entry path very clear so that there’s no room for confusion.
- Foster a “culture of security” in your workplace so that all employees understand the importance of directing visitors to the visitor entrance (and not letting them in another way).
- Implement a badge system. If employees know that no one should be on site without a badge, a badgeless visitor will draw attention.
- Limit points of access to your facility as much as you reasonably can. Consider keeping doors locked when possible and requiring that employees use some kind of key to gain access to office spaces.
Using Fake Credentials
Many companies that have higher security needs compile lists of specific people who are considered to be security risks.
These watchlists, sometimes called be-on-the-lookout lists (BOLO lists for short), are disseminated to security staff so that they can recognize these people easily.
However, in the absence of a full-time security detail (and sometimes other resources to supplement it), watchlist software can scan visitors’ info against an established watchlist. The programs may search for a match in last name or email address when the visitor checks in, then alert security staff to any matches.
However, these security measures can fall apart if criminals simply falsify their names or personal details, which is fairly easy to do during the check-in process.
The first way to prevent visitors from using false names is to set up a protocol for checking IDs (i.e. verify that the ID is legitimate, and indeed owned by the person who presented it).
Another way is to require a photo of each visitor as they check in. If you do this through your visitor management software, the visitor’s host can:
- Verify that the visitor is indeed the person they were expecting to meet.
- Make sure the visitor isn’t anyone on the security watch list.
Be sure to alert all visitors that their check-in information and photo will be verified by the host and the security staff. Putting this information on a sign near the front desk or in your visitor management software may deter criminals from even trying to check in under false pretenses.
Pretending to Have an Appointment
Occasionally, people will try to sneak on site by pretending to have a valid reason to be there, whether it’s to do maintenance on equipment, make a delivery, or simply meet with an employee (one who won’t be available to verify that their visit is legitimate).
To prevent this kind of problem:
- Instruct the front desk staff to prohibit visitors from going beyond the lobby without their host (or at least before getting verification from the host that the visitor is expected).
- Inform employees that guests should be scheduled in advance whenever possible to prevent any surprises. Make sure employees understand that they have to be available to confirm access for any invited guests, and that deliveries or contractors will be left waiting in the lobby until they can vouch for them. (Visitor management software can be helpful in these cases, as it can notify hosts via SMS, email, or Slack message as soon as the visitor arrives, and at set intervals afterward.)
- Make sure that the rest of staff knows not to invite unauthorized guests beyond the lobby until their identity and reason for visiting can be verified.
- Take an extra step to verify the identity of contractors by asking for their work IDs or calling their employers.
Breaking In With Stolen Keys
Savvy criminals don’t have to smash a window to gain entry to your building. It can be much easier (and less noticeable) for them to get access via a stolen keycard or passcode.
It goes without saying that physical keys and keycards should always be issued and collected carefully. If you’re using a passcode for the door, it needs to be changed regularly, too.
A good security system can prevent people from accessing the facility after regular business hours without the security code. During the workday, though, you can try the following tactics.
- Again, a badge system can help alert employees to the fact that the visitor hasn’t checked in. If visitor badges have photos, expiration dates, and unique designs, they’ll be difficult to copy. Related post: How to Design Your Visitors Badges
- If you’re using an electronic access control system, make sure it still works during power interruptions and that it’s not easy to disable (say, by snipping a cord or two).
- Consider upgrading your office’s access control system to one that requires more authentication from users, such as a fingerprint on a mobile app.
Get Serious About Visitor Management
Employers have many different levels of security needs and varying amounts of resources to dedicate to security.
But even if you don’t have someone staffing your front desk, you can get serious about access control and visitor management. A concerted effort toward making the flow of people in and out of your facility is safe, secure, and pleasant can pay off in many ways for your business.Making sure that the flow of people in and out of your facility is safe, secure, and pleasant can pay off in many ways for your business. Click To Tweet
A big part of this effort is an investment in quality visitor management software, which handles the entire check-in process, prints visitor badges, and keeps automated visitor records.
If you’re looking for visitor management software, we hope you consider The Receptionist for iPad. You can start by requesting a demo here.
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